Showing posts from 2006

Everything You Need to Know About the Blues...

A friend posted this on her blog, and I've got to pass it along. Thanks, Barbara!

How to Sing the Blues

If you are new to Blues music, or like it but never really understood the why and wherefores, here are some very fundamental rules:

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes - sort of:
"Got a good woman with the meanest face in town.
Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town.
Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice.
You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch...ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars:
Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks.
Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles.
Most B…

Christmas Eve sermon--Final

This is pretty much what I will be preaching this afternoon. It's in manuscript form and I'll be turning it into an outline, but here it is. Thanks to RevGalBlogPals for encouragement and goodies along the way!
Luke 1Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! "But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? "For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord." And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the L…

Christmas Eve sermon--Draft 1

Well, this is something I've never done before and am a bit nervous about, but here goes--this is the first draft of my sermon for tomorrow afternoon. I will be reworking it tonight and probably cutting it back to an outline of some sort.Comments and suggestions welcome!
Will you pray with me? God of light, God of love, be present with us now as we prepare to receive you into our hearts. May our spirits receive you with joy. Amen.I don’t have to tell you that today is Christmas Eve. But actually, we’re not celebrating Christmas Eve this afternoon—that will come tonight at the 11 pm service. That’s because today is also the fourth Sunday of Advent, and we celebrate that first—and then Christmas Eve in the evening.You see, just like in our scripture reading, Jesus isn’t here yet! Mary is praising God and all the things God will do—God will do, soon. But not yet. Mary is still journeying this afternoon, still on her way to that stable.And I have to wonder—what is she thinking, this fi…

123:5 Meme

Here's a new one, and I'm procrastinating on the sermon, so...
Through HipPastorzWife2B through Mary Beth from Songbird , as seen at The Vicar of Hogsmeade. The rules are:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!Dorothy Dunnett, King Hereafter“And so he went to the top bench, where Thorfinn also was signalling him over, and where he sat down, as indicated, between an abbot from Devon and a bishop from Brittany. Thorfinn said, ‘I am not your brave sort of man who would enter into a marriage alliance without informing King Canute’s Queen, the Lady Emma. When she is in her dower town of Exeter, there is no one she leans on more than my lord Abbot Ealdred here, who rules Tavistock and all the trading ships moving …

Friday Christmas Foodie Five!! Yum!

The Friday Five from the RevGalBlogPals...time to eat!

NOTE: To Singing Owl--no, this is not my family. It's a nice photo, evocative of a certain time of year and of the previous century. Just to be clear about this.
1. Favourite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.Now that is a tough one…my mother and I were just talking about Christmas baking the other day, and all the different recipes we used to make—cherry blinks, spritzen, lebkuchen, gingersnaps, candy canes, stockings (the latter two variations on sugar cookies), macaroons, and rum balls. I think I’d have to go with sugar cookies, Mexican wedding cakes or cream wafers. Recipes for the second two below.

2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)
I’m still in the process of re-creating a holiday tradition—between pastoring and a divorce, I haven’t done the same thing two years in a row for about fiv…

For the Doubters Out There...

Just in case any of you doubted me a while ago, here's the S'mores Nativity Set!

Hurry, supplies are limited!

Order now and we'll add FREE fiberoptics!

Added Thursday December 21: I just now actually scrolled down to the post with the S'mores, and I had actually posted a picture already. That's what I get for laziness. On the other hand, in the current post (i.e., this one), you get a link THAT WORKED, BLOGGER, FOILED YOU THIS TIME! and a whole bunch of even odder nativity sets.

I want the timer.

A Christmas at the Movies...

The RevGalBlogPals Midwinter Meme is on Christmas movies. I haven’t really been one for the holiday theme in movies, but I’ll take a stab at this…1) It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time?
I don’t remember the first time I saw this movie, it’s been a part of my holidays for so long. I used to gather with relatives for Chinese food and It’s a Wonderful Life sometime in December—usually about this time, the last weekend or so before Christmas. It gave us a chance to get together without all the Christmas Eve/Day craziness, and yet be part of our Christmas. And Chinese food meant no one had to cook!2) Miracle on 34th Street--old version or new?
Never seen either one. Sorry…3) Do you have a favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge?
Alistair Sims, bar none. He IS Scrooge. Unless it’s my Dickens prof from undergraduate days, who read A Christmas Carol, in costume, every year to the assembled masses the night before fall (i.e. December) finals began.4) Why sho…

Procrastinating or Priming the Pump While Trying to Get the Sermon Written?

I was just looking at my newly redesigned blog (I upgraded to Beta Blogger, added a bunch of links, rearranged some things), and read my post from Monday. Yikes! How could I have fallen so far, so fast? I had said I wanted to do a little bit on things every day so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I actually did that until Wednesday, when everything fell apart. Don’t ask me why—I was in the office all day, got lots of paperwork and other needed things done (worship planning for January, meeting with host church pastor about our joint Christmas Eve service, not to mention various correspondence). I tried to work on the sermon several times, but then I would realize that I hadn’t done X, which had to be done that day (deadline) or I needed to check on Y, since I was in the office. Etc. You know how it goes—someone calls, someone stops in, you realize you’re running out of time on something else…and the sermon gets put aside. And yet, the sermon and worship are two of the most important thin…

Christmas Songs of Advents Past…

The post title doesn't really fit what I ended up writing, but I like it so much I'm keeping it anyway...

My usual Friday Five from the RevGalBlogPals… This week we’re talking Christmas music!1. A favourite 'secular' Christmas song.
This one is actually difficult—most of my favourites are “sacred”—or at least semi-sacred, in that they actually talk about Jesus and angels instead of holly and presents and eggnog. Hmmm..."It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," for its evocation of New York City, and "White Christmas," just 'cause.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better).
“Mary, Did You Know?” and “Little Drummer Boy”—both of them in spite of myself,cause I think I cry too easily. And that drummer boy--cheese, indeed.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” with “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer…

Procrastination, Thy Name is Pastor!

Monday! Yay!

I am going to be doing my best to take today off. I managed to put in more than 40 hours last week (theoretically, I’m part-time, at 20 hours a week). So I slept in, read my email in a leisurely fashion, browsed through some blogs, took the trivia quiz, and had a lazy breakfast, including finishing a book I want to give my mother. I’ve started the laundry, too.

According to the church musician, who also plays for a local Presbyterian church, this is the year of the Sabbath (at least for Canadian Presbyterians; the rest of us may be out of luck). Well, darn it, I’m going to do my best to take part in this whole Sabbath thing! That’s taking a day to rest, right?

Can someone explain that to me?

I’m sure trying it today. Oh, I’m not totally ignoring the church—this time of year there’s too much going on, between Advent and Christmas preparations, our congregation’s annual meeting (yesterday and it went well, thank you), and preparing for next year (yes, I really am still worki…

World AIDS Day

Today is the observance of World AIDS Day. We’ve been observing this day for so long, I don’t know what to say that I haven’t said fifty times before.I could talk about my many friends and colleagues who are HIV+ or who have sero-converted and have full-blown AIDS. I could talk about my friends who work in AIDS clinics and other AIDS organizations, supporting people who are HIV+ or living with AIDS (PWAs). I could talk about the effects of HIV/AIDS around the world, how it devastates communities, regions, and nations, leaving a younger generation to fend for themselves. I could talk about how the highest increase in rate of infection is among black women. I could take on the whole controversy about the “down low” or the one on abstinence education.Or I could put a cheerier face on it, and talk about the medications developed in recent years, that make it possible to really live with AIDS. I could mention the many agencies that have been created specifically for PWAs. I could say tha…

Friday Meme Time…

It’s Friday, and you know what means (at least you do if you’ve been in RP-land on a Friday or two)—Meme Time! This week, honouring the first Sunday of Advent, it’s an Advent meme from the RevGalBlogPals.Here we go:1) Do you observe Advent in your church?
Oh, yes. We have to do a lot of explaining, because many people come from a tradition that didn’t celebrate Advent so much, or didn’t use Advent wreaths. But most people seem to like it, especially the young ones! For me, it's a way to stave off Christmas until Christmas. Advent is an important season of the church year all on its own, darn it!
2) How about at home?
When I was growing up, we did—greens from the cedar bushes out front, candles in the star-shaped crystal holders, all on a round tray—and when I lived in Germany, the florists and gift shops had gorgeous ones, with crystals and pearl beads and bows and ribbons—all quite flammable, I’m sure. So of course I had to have one every year. More recently, life hasn’t been org…

It's Been a Few Days...

Life has been absolutely chaos the last week. The church is having several crises, most minor, but one major. It's not going to close the church down, but it's going to be difficult and very ugly for a while.

They say you're not really succeeding as a pastor until you've p*ssed someone off...

Look, Ma, I'm a success! (Sarcasm off)

Please keep us in your prayers.

On a Lighter Note...

My last few posts have been serious. And well they should be, given the subjects.

But before I go to spend a few days with the 'rent, and to be a 'rent, I thought I'd have some fun.
As LutheranChick mentioned yesterday, whatever happened to all the memes we used to post for each other?

Herewith, a meme for Christian music lovers! My responses are below.

1. What is your favourite "praise chorus?" At what point in the service (if any) is your congregation likely to use them?

2. Taize. Discuss.

3. Rutter, Bach, or Jars of Clay for the anthem this Sunday?

4. How do you and your musician share the selection of music for worship? How do each of you locate music (hymns, anthems, responses, etc.) for worship?

5. What is the one part of worship you would never set to music? Alternatively, what is the one part of worship you cannot imagine without music?

Bonus question: What is your favourite minor chord?

RP's responses:
1. What is your favourite "praise chorus?" At wh…

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Monday, November 20, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to remember the lives lost to ignorance and hatred, the lives of transgendered people who have been murdered simply because they were brave enough to speak truth to the world. To be clear and honest about this: I am not transgendered, so understand that I am speaking as an ally, a friend, not an expert or from my own transgendered experience. I do not speak for trans people, of course—and to my trans friends, I apologize in advance for over-simplifying, for leaving out some of the complexities, for not speaking to all the difficulties and complications. I speak, again, as an ally, from my friendships and my love for my transgendered friends of all genders. You know who you are—thank you for your presence in my life. You have been my partners in crime, my inspirations, my role models, my refuge from time to time, and most of all, my beloved friends.I have many transgendered friends—they are transwomen, FTM, genderquee…

Friday Five—What I’m Thankful For…Version

Please note: these are in no particular order. In fact, the ones further down the list may be closer to my heart, because they took longer to surface…1. My retreat last month (was it only last month?). I will say it again (and again, and again, and again)—take a solitary retreat. I had six days; five would have been enough, three would have been too short. A day to settle in, a day to begin surfacing, and two or three days to just be. The best things I took away from it were that schedules are not as important as I think they are and neither are to-do lists; I can read indefinitely long if provided a comfortable place and plenty of iced tea or coffee; sometimes it’s OK to just sit and stare out the window. So I give thanks for my retreat, Jeremiah House, GilChrist Retreat Centre, and John and Debbie (the caring staff).2. My health. Overall, it’s pretty good. Yes, I could lose some weight, and I will never have 20/20 vision, but otherwise I’m doing OK—internal parts all functioning pro…

What Makes RP See Red (this week)...

By popular demand (well, sort of…), here is my expanded version of what makes me see red.Ignorance in charge of other people’s lives and freedom.I think I’ll focus on that one for now. But where do I start? Let me begin with an easy one.Ignorance: Some people will tell you there’s really no reason for same-sex couples to want marriage, that they can get all those benefits through wills and such, that same-sex couple just want the name of marriage for the prestige, to be just like different-sex couples.Oh, really? Tell that to the man whose partner had stipulated in his will that he was not to be buried in the family plot but in the plot he and his partner had chosen. His family was able to bring suit for him to be buried where he did not want to be--luckily, the judge ruled in favour of the will and the partner and the deceased’s expressed wishes. Wills are continually contested, they cannot cover benefits (like veteran’s benefits and Social Security), which are regulated by law, and …

Friday Five: Red, Blue, and Purple!

It’s Friday, I’m in town and have a few minutes, and so here we have the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five!1. Favourite red food: Strawberries. On angelfood cake, on ice cream, dipped in chocolate, as jam or jelly, just by themselves, hands down favourite red food.

2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person.Lake Erie, believe it or not, from Point Pelee ( late one afternoon. The atmospheric conditions must have been just right, because I have never seen a bluer body of water. Dark, dark blue, like a sapphire. Lovely.

3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide?THe Color Purple, hands down. One of my favourites anyway, and certainly of those three!

4. What has you seeing red these days? Oooh, do we have that much time? OK, I’ll boil it down: 1. Intolerance claiming its right to exist as religious freedom. 2. Ignorance in charge of other people’s lives and freedom. 3. Deceptio…

Taking the Leap!

Well, I’m back from my conference—three and a half days of amazing workshops, a mini-retreat, friendships new and renewed and expanded, and a testing of my energy and stamina.As I’ve mentioned, I volunteered to coordinate the worship assistants for the entire conference—the Communion servers and holders and the ushers. You know, there are a lot of logistics involved with that! How do we get Communion to the choir? How about taking up the offering from the choir? How do we get Communion to the people doing the counting of the offering (which, of course, comes right before Communion)? What about getting the Communion elements down from the altar to the holders (they hold the Communion elements while the servers serve the congregation and say the blessing for each person)? How do I find enough of each of those? Luckily, I had many volunteers and when I didn’t have as many people as I thought I needed, the ones I did have pitched in and did what had to be done. A wonderful side-effect—or …

Wandering off to Conference....

I have been very neglectful of my blog in the last couple of weeks, leaving my readers high and dry—my apologies to all five of you!Tomorrow DP and I leave for our Regional Conference (she is the lay delegate), so I will definitely not be blogging until I return, early next week.Nonetheless I am sure I will come back with tales to tell! I am coordinating worship assistants during the conference, and helped put together one of the worship services, so even though I’m not preaching this week, I’ll as busy as if I were!So I’m off to worship with old friends, retreat and conference with new ones, and hopefully get some time to relax as well.A word in advance of late Saturday night---If you have a dog, walk it proud!

Friends and self-care

Ever have times when you were so busy you barely had time for a meal, when you went right back to your office/study after an evening meeting to finish a project, when you barely had time to breathe, when your laundry piled up, the houseplants wilted for lack of water and the dishes piled up in the dishwasher (because you didn’t even have time to turn it on)? That’s where I am. I’m not going to list the many meetings, projects, and so on that I have deadlines for in the next four days…but rest assured, I don’t think I’ll have much free time for the next ten days. Which is why I’m planning to take tonight off. A good dinner, a little Jeopardy, some light reading and bed early. It’s what I need to get through the next few days!Lest you think I’m a very grounded person who always knows what she needs and takes it, let me say that this wouldn’t be happening if not for a letter from a friend of mine that arrived today. He is ill, chronically so, and had not been taking care of himself. But …

Friday Five--Word Association

Back into the routine--Friday means the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five meme. This week it's word association time!

Whirlwind: Tornado, probably much like the one in The Wizard of Oz. Brownish grey, spinning...dusty, too.

Foundation: Solid; cement, building. Interestingly enough, I don't automatically think of foundation in the sense of a non-profit benevolent-type organization, in spite of the fact that I have worked with them a lot.

Lightning: A flash of lightning, against a dark sky.

Den: A safe place, a cozy place; almost a nest, but underground.

Prey: Here's the odd thing--I think of a predator. What is up with my mind, that I think of the opposite? Say "prey," and I get a mental picture of a wolf or hawk.

Well, there's a sense of dynamicism there, for sure--of movement, witht he lightning and the whirlword--and even with foundation and den, there's the idea of settling in from movement, of coming to rest.

I can't explain the prey thing at all. And I'm n…

Personality DNA

Well, since I understand that to be truly KEWL, I must have my personality DNA on my blog, here it is (at least I hope it works)...

I am, as you can see, a Benevolent Creator.

Oddly enough, I am, according to these folks, extremely feminine, and barely masculine. Anyone who knows me is now howling with laughter. I have been known to wear a dress, but mostly at Halloween. The last time I wore makeup was at Easter to demonstrate a "complete change." I have never been mistaken for a "lady" and high heels make me uneasy. If I can't do something myself, I find an expert who can, but I'd rather figure it out on my own than have someone do it for me (except DP, but she's special).

'Course, they do have my spontaneity level pegged--way low. I like a schedule, darn it. I do try to be spontaneous, but, but, but can we plan it for Saturday, please?

Back in Harness

It's amazing how quickly the old routines fall back into place...

The serenity of my retreat is still with me, however. It's amazing to feel so centred and grounded, to be able to do so much and not feel hurried or harassed. Attitude and the Spirit both have something to do with that, I think!

Still basking...

Home again...

Last week I was on retreat.I saw:Beautiful colours of autumn against a solid blue skyA doe and her half-grown fawn (they live behind the cabin I was staying in, so I saw them several times)A wild tom turkey (which I almost hit, because he dashed into the road…)A red-tailed hawk (only ten feet away, outside my window)Snow in early October!!I also:Meditated for most of SundayMissed DP and the petsWalked a labyrinthStayed up to midnight without feeling guiltyRead several books (some for fun, some for the book, and one “professional” book)Had three fires in the fireplaceOutlined a book of my ownAte healthilyWalked almost every dayJournaled regularly
GilChrist (the retreat centre) is a wonderful place. I can highly recommend it as a place for a solitary retreat or for a small group retreat (I don’t think they can hold more than about 12-15 people at the most).After I was greeted and given a tour and taken to my cabin (Jeremiah House; somehow very appropriate!), I was pretty much left alone.…

On Retreat

Well, I've done what I can for regional conference worship, I've packed up my stuff (in my old kit bag...), I've got the books I want to refer to, I've got my special coffee and tea (due to the international border, I have to purchase the rest of my food for the week over there), and I think I'm ready to go.

Bless each of you this weekend and next week as you prepare to preach and lead services, as you discern God's call, as you rest and refresh, and as you do all the other activities this busy group does!

I'm going on retreat!

Preaching with the Holy Spirit

Browsing around to try to get a start on the sermon for next week, I ran across this ">article on pastoral plagiarism. What the original writer seems to be saying is that we cannot trust to the Spirit, that we have to have “the best sermon” at all costs, and the end justifies the means.Well, that brings up some questions for me.How do we decide who “the best” preachers are? Even those we often think of as great speakers and preachers had off days; are all their sermons to be considered equally “great?” And is it really a good idea to elevate these people to the level of the only ones who can preach?What does this say about our own arrogance? Do we really think that people only hear what we say, or do we believe that the Spirit speaks through us, in spite of us?Preaching, I discovered before I even left seminary (thank you, Jesus!), is not always or even usually about educating the congregation, but about the preacher learning s…